19 Jul 2009

Your architect is your guardian angel: Part 2

New Homes | Renovations | Services | Tips and Advice

In my previous article, I spoke about how working with an architect can save you from making poor design decisions which can adversely affect the livability of your home.

But this is not the only area of home design where an architect such as myself can save your home from becoming a disaster.

The cost of living is constantly rising, with fuel prices, energy prices and pretty much all other prices going through the roof. Yet so many people fall into the trap of building new homes, or extensions to existing homes, that require massive amounts of energy.

Homes that are poorly designed can be hugely expensive to run. If your home has not been designed with sustainability in mind, then brace yourself for some horrendous power bills.

So why do people build homes like this? Simply because they don’t understand how to create sustainable homes.

Sustainable home design - Do I need to Hire an Architect

Do I need to Hire an Architect? – You Could Save Loads On Power Bills

It’s not about beliefs:

Mention the words ‘sustainable living’ and people almost instantly think of climate change and/or global warming. And I realise that there are a growing number of climate change sceptics in the world, that don’t necessarily agree that our actions are having an impact on the world’s climate.

But regardless of what your beliefs are, the simple facts are that sustainably built homes are also economical homes to run.

A well-designed home that focuses on sustainable living is a home that will require less energy and water, two commodities that are increasing in price almost every day.

A sustainable home does this by working with the environment instead of against it. It uses wind, rain and sunshine to reduce our dependency on electricity and council water supplies.

The power to save:

I hear a lot of people complaining about the rising cost of electricity, and yet so many people still build homes that use so much of it.

Many homes are still built with dark, uninviting rooms that see little natural light. Rooms that require the lights to be switched on simply to see your way around, resulting in high power consumption.

Other homes are poorly designed in terms of natural heating and cooling, with only minimal insulation. These homes are cold in winter and hot in summer meaning that heaters and air-conditioners must be running on most days just to allow the occupants of the home to live in comfort.

However, a well-designed home will not be anywhere near so dependent on electricity. By understanding how sunlight falls onto your block of land, it’s possible to create rooms that only need lighting at night, and even then a well-designed home will not need a lot of lights to allow comfortable levels of visibility.

skylights in architecturally designed kitchen

Skylights can provide visibility and help you save money on electricity bills

Natural light reduces power consumption in this above kitchen. In the picture below, the use of large eaves or verandahs will enable your home to receive the benefits of the warm winter sun, whilst protecting it against the hotter summer sun. A home built with sustainability in mind will also allow you to capture cooling breezes resulting in air-conditioners not being needed on any but the hottest days of the year.

And that in itself is an interesting point to note. Sustainable homes will often still have heaters/air-conditioners installed, they just won’t need to be run as often, or for as long, to achieve a comfortable indoor climate for you and your family.

Having it on tap:

At the time of writing this article, the dams around Brisbane are sitting at over 70% capacity. But it was only a few short months ago that dams were sitting at under 20% and the Queensland government was looking at introducing treated sewage water as a means of meeting demands.

And whilst the drought may have broken, the price of water remains high for ratepayers. And there is every chance that water levels will drop again at some point in the not too distant future.

Yet Brisbane itself receives a lot of rain and fairly regular rain at that. It just doesn’t always fall in the catchment areas. But just because it does not land in our dams does not mean that we can’t benefit from it.

All new homes in Brisbane are required to have rainwater tanks, to create a certain degree of self-sufficiency. But truly sustainable homes go further. They not only harvest rain as it falls, they also make use of grey water from washing machines and showers, to maintain lush green gardens even in times of drought. But more importantly, well-designed homes and gardens require less water to start with.

I can save you:

Not all architects are equal when it comes to designing sustainable homes. My team and I excel in this area, creating homes that are beautifully comfortable and inexpensive to run.

Power and water prices are only going to increase in the future. If having a comfortable, affordable home that won’t send you broke through high power bills is important to you, then you simply must call me to discuss your new home or renovation plans. Building sustainable homes is just another way in which we are looking after your best interests.

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